Macron visits Algeria and promises a new era in bilateral relations | News | DW


French President Emmanuel Macron began a three-day visit to Algeria on Thursday, where he pledged to open a new chapter in bilateral relations between two countries that share a painful past.

France controlled Algeria for 130 years of colonial rule. But the past eight years have been marked by a devastating struggle for independence that ended in 1962.

“We have a complex and painful common past. And that has sometimes prevented us from looking to the future,” Macron said. “We did not choose this past, we inherited it. It is a blockage, we must look at it and recognize it, but we have a responsibility, it is to build our own future for us and our children.”

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hailed what he called “encouraging results” from Macron’s visit.

Tebboune said there was a “positive dynamic” in their relationship, adding that there were “promising prospects for improving the privileged partnership that binds us”.

The French president announced the creation of a joint committee with Algerian and French historians to study the archives on the colonial period.

French historians have said that half a million civilians and combatants died during the war of independence, including 400,000 Algerians. But Algerian authorities said around 1.5 million people had been killed.

A troubled relationship

Macron is the first French president born after the independence of Algeria. In 2017, he called French actions during the 1954-1962 war a “crime against humanity”. The remarks were politically controversial in France, but well received in Algeria.

But last year Macron angered Algiers in a newspaper interview in which he asked whether Algeria had really existed as a state before French colonization. He also accused former Algerian governments of fomenting “hate towards France” in the decades following independence.

This prompted Tebboune to recall his country’s ambassador and ban French military aircraft from Algerian airspace.

Macron’s office said it “regrets” the misunderstandings caused by his comments, and eventually normal diplomatic relations and overflights to French army bases in sub-Saharan Africa resumed.

The stability of the region at the center of concerns

The two countries have since tried to find a more cordial tone. Algerian media said Macron’s visit showed a mutual desire for relations built around “a new vision based on equal treatment and a balance of interests”.

Tebboune said he and Macron discussed regional security issues, such as stability in neighboring Libya, terrorist threats in the Sahel region and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

In addition, the two leaders are expected to discuss increasing supplies of Algerian gas to Europe, in hopes of filling the gap caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Macro” chose to orient this visit towards the future, [focusing on] start-ups, innovation, youth, new sectors,” his office said.

jcg/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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